NEW YORK, September 12 (RIA Novosti) - US President Barack Obama's strategy against the Islamic State (IS) could involve Russia and Iran as go-betweens to Damascus, Richard Haass, president of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, said on Thursday.
"There may have to be some tacit understandings, however conditional, with the [Bashar] Assad government [of Syria], and that would require the participation of a kind of contact group, or a more formal group, that I believe would need to include the Sunni governments in the region, as well as Russia and Iran," said Haass.
On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama announced plans to defeat the Islamic State by extending US airstrikes from Iraq to Syria and bolstering Kurdish and Iraqi forces and Syria's moderate armed opposition.
"I would not assume that Russia and Iran are totally hostile to everything [the United States] might want to do in Syria or Iraq because they have an enormous interest in seeing that [the Islamic State] does not gain momentum," said Haass.
"Iran has made a major investment in Iraq and is vulnerable to a radicalization of the Sunni world," Haass stated. Russia has no interest in a radicalization either, he believes, as a considerable part of the Russian population is Muslim.
"I would not write off the possibility of some form of limited cooperation or at least parallelism from both Moscow and Tehran," Haass said.
The Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is a Sunni jihadist group that has been fighting against the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, the group extended its attacks to northern and western Iraq, declaring a caliphate on the territories under its control later that month.